Bipin Chandra Pal, who was born on 7 November 1858, is best known as a part of the radical freedom-fighter trio Lal-Bal-Pal.
New Delhi: The Bengal partition of 1905 shook Bipin Chandra Pal deeply, as it did hundreds of thousands of other Indians.
The convulsions of this division of people along communal lines led Indian nationalists to announce an unprecedented boycott of British goods, bringing India’s colonial rulers face to face with the strongest resistance since 1857.
One of the leaders of this campaign, known as the ‘Swadeshi movement’, was born a year after the British crushed the freedom struggle of 1857.
Bipin Chandra Pal, born on 7 November 1858 at Poil village in the Sylhet district of present-day Bangladesh, is today most famous as one-third of the famous radical trio of Lal-Bal-Pal — also comprising Lala Lajpat Rai and Bal Gangadhar Tilak. Together, the three occupied the opposite spectrum of the freedom struggle from Mahatma Gandhi and his doctrine of non-violence.
In fact, Pal made no secret of his disdain for Gandhi’s ways, which he criticised for being rooted in “magic” instead of “logic”.
Pal was born to a fairly wealthy family, and grew up learning Bengali and Persian in his early years. It was only at the age of nine, when his family settled in Sylhet town, that Pal took admission in an English school, starting from the lowest grade.
A journalist by profession, Pal served as the founder editor of Paridarshak, before going on to edit several other English and Bengali newspapers from Calcutta, Lahore, Allahabad and London.
At the age of 28, he decided to join an organisation, then just a year old, that sought to be the vehicle of the Indian nationalist movement. Pal’s membership of this organisation, the Indian National Congress, set the stage for his emergence as a national leader.
In the wake of the Bengal partition, a journal he had founded earlier, New India, took a fresh turn as a political chronicle meant to create social awareness.
In 1906, Pal started a daily called Vande Mataram. He also set up a school — Anushilan Samiti — and began a tour of the country to propagate his philosophy.
Advocate of gender equality
In 1920, Pal was among the senior Congress leaders who opposed Gandhi’s resolution on non-cooperation over the fact that it didn’t address self-government.
Pal was of the opinion that a delegation be sent to the UK to meet the British prime minister as a last-ditch effort to gain self-government. But Pal lost, the resolution was passed, and this episode marked the former’s departure from politics.
Known as the father of revolutionary thoughts, Pal was just that in his private life as well. He started off as a believer in the British and eventually became their opponent. After his first wife passed away, he married a widow and joined the Brahmo Samaj, which, among other things, denounced the caste system. He was also an ardent proponent of gender equality.
Pal had a son, Niranjan, who went on to co-found Bombay Talkies, the famous movie studio behind Indian cinema’s early hits like Achhut Kanya (1936).
He died on 20 May 1932 in Calcutta.